There were 15 featured events at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers last weekend. They offered a combined 25 grand prizes, and despite 10 of the 15 tourneys being Pick & Prays, those 25 top prizes were won by 25 different people. So we have a lot of ground to cover…and a lot of smart people to recognize. We’ll start at the beginning—on Friday.
Winners were paying on the stingy side on Friday. In fact, the victorious Sean O’Malley had just one of them in the day’s up-to-$12,500 Pick & Pray, which had a new and improved guarantee of $7,500 this week. His lone winner went off at a good, but not earth-shattering price of 6-1. For O’Malley, the difference was made by his three place collections, which played (and paid) like winners, rewarding him with $9.40, $20.40 and $22.00, respectively, in the place hole. It added up to a tourney victory worth $5,633, in an event that closed with a purse of a very healthy $11,266.
The parade of winners grew in number on Saturday with six featured contests on the schedule. The richest one was Saturday’s $17,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
This one was captured by NHC Hall of Famer Paul Shurman who, fittingly, posted the day’s highest score to win the day’s biggest prize: $8,697 out of a total final pot of $19,322. Paul had five winners and a place, with his biggest collection coming via Satori ($41.20, $18.20) in the tourney’s final race, the 7th at Santa Anita. (Special shoutout to 6th-place finisher Michael Goodrich, who added $869 to his bank account after winning $30,000 the previous weekend in our Belmont Stakes Day $75,000 game.)
Satori was one of four winners selected by Travis Foelsch in Saturday’s last-chance qualifier to the June 22 Santa Anita Spring Challenge.
As a result of those last-race, Pick & Pray heroics, Foelsch has a paid-up, $3,000 entry for next Saturday.
Satori was also key in our first qualifier to the October 17-19 Orleans Fall Classic.
Josh Thorpe and Douglas Schenk each won $500 entries to the Fall Classic and $500 for travel. Each had Satori…but that’s where the similarities end. Thorpe swung and missed entirely on the first seven races, but had three winners—capped off by Satori—to go from worst to first. For Schenk, Satori was his only winner of the day, though his score was nicely augmented by three earlier place collections. They took two different paths…but both ultimately led to The Orleans.
Dave Nichols and 2016 NHC Tour Champion Cheryl McIntyre both recorded 3 firsts and 3 seconds in Saturday’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier, but their roads to victory were also quite dissimilar.
Nichols, aka The Gambling Actuary, followed three early placings with three late victories at odds of 10-1, 6-1 and 19-1 (Satori). McIntyre, meanwhile, was the day’s only grand prize winner who managed to prosper despite not having used the last-race Santa Anita longshot—a feat that certainly went against the grain of the day’s actuarial tables.
The two featured tourneys at HorsePlayers on Saturday were both live-format games, which helped make for even more late-race fireworks.
Joseph Parella (4 wins, 1 place) got off to a good start with a 13-1 winner in the second of 12 contest races. He cooled off from there, though, until he hit 6-1 and 19-1 winners in the final two heats to capture the coveted $10,000 entry in Saturday’s BCBC qualifier.
Early successes were not the case for the top two finishers in Saturday’s NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.
Brett Wiener (3 winners, 1 runner up) did all but $6.70 of his scoring in the final four races. Basil DeVito’s comeback was even more extreme as the WWE exec did all of his scoring (2 wins, 1 place) in the last four contest races. Wiener and DeVito are both now headed to the NHC—where it would behoove them to begin their scoring in a more timely fashion!
The equine star of Sunday’s featured tourneys was Blue Skies Forever whose 38-1 triumph in the 9th at Belmont spurred many players on to victory including the day’s contest star, Evan Trommer.
Trommer had Blue Skies Forever plus three other winners and two places to win Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray by $33.20. For his day-high score, Trommer received $6,385 from a total purse of $12,770. Here’s a look at Evan’s scoresheet.
The day’s other featured cash game, the $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, went to John Heiney.
If the name sounds familiar, it is with good reason. It was Heiney’s second Exacta tourney victory in three weeks. This time around, he had five winners—three more than he recorded in his June 2 triumph—to earn $1,084 from a final pot of $1,548.
For winning Sunday’s Stars of Texas Betting Challenge qualifier, New York native Joe Scanio (4 wins, 4 places) will be heading to Lone Star Park to take on some sharp Texans…
…including runner up Jorge Cruz-Aedo, who also won a $1,000 entry to the July 14 competition. Blue Skies Forever was Cruz-Aedo’s lone star…err, winner…of the day, which was successfully complemented by two place collections.
There was also a pair of winners, by definition, in Sunday’s qualifier to The BIG One, which now guarantees two all-inclusive packages each week to the September 21-22 high expectation contest at Laurel.
Sammy Richman was hot early, ringing up his three winners and one runner up all within races 4-7 of the 12-race affair. Second-place finisher Aaron Bernstein got hot late to grab the second package, hitting the last two winners to go along with one earlier victory plus two place payoffs.
There were three winners of $500 entries in Sunday’s Orleans Fall Classic entry-only qualifier.
Congratulations to Robert M. Moore, Lindsay Hurst and Joe DeLuca who now will all be doing battle for three days up on the second floor of The Orleans in October.
There were even more winners—four, to be precise—in our Sunday qualifier to the August 3-4 Spa & Surf Showdown, whose pot is now up and over the $100,000 mark.
Mark Rudy, Howard Welsh, Michael Kavana and Adam Lewis are now the 58th, 59th, 60th and 61st entrants, respectively, in the two-day online event that will have players making 12 selections per day from any of the races run at Saratoga and Del Mar each afternoon.
Switching over to the Sunday action at HorsePlayers, Glen Bird stormed to victory in the day’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.
He got his four wins and one place all within races 3-7 to prevail by a comfy $34.50. On the strength of this victory alone, Glen Bird has now ensured that he will have a better 2019 than New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird.
Lastly, we are sorry to report that should you win an NHC seat at Santa Anita the rest of this year and get wished good luck in Vegas by tournament director Nate Newby, he’s probably not being totally sincere.
That’s because Newby won a seat of his own on Sunday, besting 18 opponents in a Low Ratio qualifier. So you know that even if the affable Newby wishes you some degree of luck at Bally’s, he secretly wishes himself more luck!
There you have it—25 winners and not a repeat name in the bunch. We can’t promise such equitable results next week, but we do promise at least the same amount of fun. Thanks for being a part of it all.